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Croatia has become a full member of the EU education, training and youth programmes, under the umbrella of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) and Youth in Action. The agreement—signed on 7 December 2010 by the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, and Radovan Fuchs, Croatia's Minister of Science, Education and Sports—will enter into force as of January 2011. The process of facilitating membership in these programmes has been prepared and administered by the Croatian Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes with the help of CINOP in the Netherlands, which provided capacity building assistance.
The Croatian National Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes has saluted the agreement by pointing out that more than 4 400 Croatian citizens are currently eligible to benefit from these programmes by engaging in international study, training, internship, and volunteering activities. Croatia’s labour force is perceived to have been lagging behind other European countries in terms of technology advancements and other changes in the world of work as a result of low engagement with lifelong learning. The full involvement in the LLP as well as Youth in Action should introduce a highly meaningful avenue for Croatians to make progress in these areas.
Croatia has been an official candidate for EU membership since 2004 and its accession is strongly supported by the EU member states. Higher education in Croatia has proven to be one of the salient features of country’s development, although the country is challenged to comply with EU standards in this area. During the informal bilateral meeting that accompanied the agreement signing in Bruges, Belgium, the Commissioner and the Minister also discussed the European priorities for education articulated in the Europe 2020 strategy, with an emphasis on lifelong learning and the modernisation of universities. The Commissioner has expressed support for Croatia’s efforts to modernise its universities both in terms of programmes as well as of management and financing.
Also interesting to note as Croatia joins these EU programmes, so too will Switzerland become a fully-fledged member of ‘the club’ in 2011 (for a bit of background on the Swiss developments, see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2009 and ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, March 2010).Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia